Georgia mine explosion kills four

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Miners leave the Mindeli coal mine after their shift in Tkibuli, Georgia, July 13, 2018. Picture taken July 13, 2018. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili

Four miners died and six were injured on Monday in an explosion at a coal mine in western Georgia, officials said.

The accident happened at the Mindeli mine in the western city of Tqibuli early Monday, the head of local police, Besik Amiranashvili said.

“A methane gas explosion at the mine” was to blame, deputy of Tqibuli’s city council, David Katamadze, said in televised remarks.

Georgia’s Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze offered condolences to the victims’ families and declared Monday a day of mourning in the country of 3.8 million people.

“A decision has been taken to close the mine pending investigation” into the cause of the latest accident, he said in a statement.

Mining unions and labour rights groups have long complained about poor safety standards at Georgia’s coal mines, where fatal accidents are common as many mines still use outdated Soviet-era equipment.

In April, six miners died and three were injured when the roof collapsed at the Mindeli mine.